Last time I was in Boston it was gloriously sunny. This time Boston is alternatively a nipple hardening freeze-fest, or worse-than-London-in-February festival of rain. Still, a weekend in Boston is not to be sniffed at. This weekend I’ll see a performance and then be in one.
I head to the Boston Public Library, a fantastic edifice to erudition and, conveniently, next to the half price theatre tickets booth in Copley Square where I randomly pick my evening’s entertainment – a play called ‘Entertaining Mr. Sloane’ by British playwright Joe Orton. I was hoping to see how an American cast would handle the peculiarly English quirks of Orton’s dark humour (and the accents). It turns out the cast is all British, which is no doubt good for the play, but ruins some of my fun.
The library is one of those beautiful, old school, vaulted ceiling places and I feel all proper and Bostonian as I write. My pre-theatre dinner is jollied by a conversation about technology and faith with the sociable Ellis, a Methodist preacher in a sharp suit, with an easy laugh who laments his church’s inability to keep pace with modern means of communication.
Today I stay at Tracy’s flat to read. Tracy herself is out an about for most of the day, including a trip to church with her mum who is aggressively intrigued by me. “Hello,” I say. “I’m staying with Tracy for a few days.” “I can see that!” she exclaims “But who are you?!” I get the impression she thinks I may be some decidedly unsavoury love interest of her daughter’s and when I tell her I’m in Boston researching a book this is met with suspicion but, ultimately, a request for a free copy. Tracy later tells me that her mother is a selfless servant of others and has “difficulty chilling out”.
That evening Tracy has arranged for a group of her (sociable and likeable) friends to see me do a brief set at Harvard’s Comedy Studio, arguable the most intelligent crowd, well, anywhere. It’s the sort of crowd that tends to heckle with technical points, rather than disdain. I don’t get any heckles, but after my set (which, I have to say, went rather well) one medical researcher did approach me to question my reading of a neuro-anatomy paper that forms the basis of one of my routines. Only in Harvard.
As is the tradition at the Comedy Studio after the show the comics and Rick Jenkins (the owner, and tonight’s generous compere) descend to the Karaoke Bar below to listen to drunk students ruin soft rock hits from the eighties (as if those weren’t bad enough already). Tracy takes a rather brilliant photo that juxtaposes Rick and the Karaoke lyrics to a diVinyls hit.